Target to Boost Spanish-Language Ads in Bid to Drive Holiday Sales

October 27, 2016

By Khadeeja Safdar, The Wall St. Journal

Target Corp. has set its bull’s-eye on Hispanic shoppers this holiday season.

The Minneapolis-based company said it is increasing its spending on Spanish-language television ads by 67% this year and taking Hispanics into account in its general marketing strategy, rather than making a separate plan as it has done in the past. For the holidays, it is also boosting its overall television spending by 21%.

During last year’s holidays, Target spent about $9.1 million on Spanish-language television ads and about $100 million in total on television ads, according to Kantar Media.

The chain is also adjusting some merchandise to appeal to Hispanic shoppers. For example, it has increased eye, hair and skin-tone combinations for its “Our Generation” dolls.

“Think about all girls coming to our stores and being able to see themselves and engage with a doll that reflects who they are,” said Mark Tritton, Target’s chief merchandising officer.

Since taking over as CEO in 2014, Brian Cornell has been trying to better appeal to millennials and Hispanic shoppers. The chain has recently been battling dwindling foot traffic and reported its first decline in same-store sales in two years.

Target’s holiday campaign, which includes 16 broadcast spots and is inspired by a Broadway-style musical, features two bilingual actresses, Kylie Cantrall and Isabella Russo. Most spots will appear on both English and Spanish television networks.

“You’re going to see more integration as opposed to a separate Hispanic marketing plan and a general marketing plan,” said Rick Gomez, Target’s senior vice president of marketing.

In March 2015, Target launched an ad campaign called “#SinTraducción,” or “Without Translation”—its first effort to appeal to Hispanics on a cultural level rather than just translate ads. In April, the retailer also aired television ads targeting Hispanics during the Billboard Latin Music Awards.

Other retailers such as J.C. Penney Co. and Sears Holdings Corp. are also trying to win over the group. Hispanic buying power reached $1.3 trillion in 2015— an increase of 5.7% from 2014 and just under 10% of total U.S. buying power—and is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to Nielsen. Their younger, larger families also increasingly represent Target’s core customer base.

Analysts say Target’s past attempts at Hispanic-focused marketing have fallen short. The company’s approach has been “disaggregated” and “inadequate,” said Burt Flickinger, managing director at Strategic Resource Group. “The signage in the stores needs to reflect that Latino customers will likely be the largest shopper group by the end of the decade.

On a recent social-media post, Spanish-speaking consumers pointed out that Target had misspelled “habanero” on the labeling for a sauce made by its private-label brand Archer Farms. The company incorrectly used an “ñ” in the Spanish word.

“We appreciate guest feedback that’s shared with us. In this case, we are in the midst of updating the product labels to ensure accuracy,” said Katie Boylan, a spokeswoman for Target.

Earlier this year, Target named Monica Lozano, former CEO of Hispanic-focused media company ImpreMedia, to its board of directors.

The retailer can gain “greatly from her deep Hispanic insights and expertise,” Mr. Cornell said at the time.

Target also ended its relationship with Minneapolis-based Haworth Marketing & Media after doing business with the agency for more than three decades. It consolidated all of its media planning and buying with New York-based GroupM, which created a Minneapolis-based agency called Team Arrow Partners to service Target earlier this year.